Saber Article Index

2001 Jan-Feb

MEDEVAC 15th Med\15th FSB
Mike Bodnar
307B N Main Copperas Cove, TX 76522
1704 254-542-1961

Researching for accuracy to the Cavalair article in the last Saber column, called: "Those Cav MEDEVACS; They Just Won't Give Up" by PFC Nick MATUSZECK, I got feedback from a couple of valid sources. Straight from the horse's mouth-no Cav pun intended-I heard from the commander of that MEDEVAC mission, Joel MORRIS AIRMORRIS9@IOLWEST.COM MEDEVAC 26, who said:

"Mike, I was the Mission Commander for that particular story and Barry BROWN was the co-pilot. You mentioned extra crew....there was a brand new door gunner who had just been in country a few days and we took him along for some 'OJT' training. That made a crew total of six. I have never seen nor talked to Barry BROWN since Vietnam but I thought I saw him in one of the reunion pictures on the MEDEVAC Web site. I believe the OJT door gunner's name was VALENCIA, but not positive. I remember the mission well so let me know if you need more info. I still keep in touch with some of the other pilots in the unit but otherwise the Web site has been the most useful historical information."

That would definitively answer our questions to the accuracy of that article after '69-'70 MEDEVAC door gunner and present MEDEVAC\15th MED Assn. President Mike SMITH forwarded my inquiry to '70-'71 MEDEVAC door gunner and MEDEVAC\15th MED Assn. Historian Larry ASH LASH@BLRG.TDS.NET who sent Joel MORRIS' e-mail address to me. In that article it also mentioned a crewmember only by his last name, VICTOR, but I managed to include his first name "James" from SNORE's Web site roster. Larry ASH confirmed and clarified that and the following to me:

"Mike, Joe KELLY was indeed a medic and, now that I think more about it, Jim VICTOR was a crew chief. Again, as for extra personnel, if it was a scramble for a Mayday or if they were en route with mail, personnel change in the field, or training, that would account for the extra person."

I, in a previous Saber column, had mentioned Larry ASH and that he had been a 1st Cav 11Bravo in the field before his joining MEDEVAC. I was not sure of his grunt unit but I somehow remembered from asking him once in SNORE's online chat room that he was in 2\12 Cav. Larry replied with this latest information:

"I was, indeed, with A Company (Ace High) 2\12th. Your memory is excellent. Yes, I cherish the CIB that I earned, along with my flight wings. MEDEVAC was no Dustoff. In my tenure with MEDEVAC, I know of no mission that was ever scrubbed due to hostile fire, weather, or any other excuse. Please, don't misunderstand me; crew safety was paramount, but retrieving wounded and keeping them alive superseded our personal safety. That was the nature of the job and 'you,' either, did your job or found another unit.

"By the way, if you'd like to reach Joe KELLY his e-mail is: JFK2559@AOL.COM . Just mention that I referred you to him and I'm sure he'll be glad to help you. He was at this year's reunion and we shared some mutual memories. Mike, you should try to make the June 2001 reunion. Check here for some info and feel free to post anything you wish; as long as it's in good taste, of course. Believe it, or not, we have grandchildren and school children checking us out so, I'd like to keep it G-Rated. <HTTP: medevacreunionpictures> <HTTP: 15thmedassociation> These sites are not to replace SNORE's Site, but to enhance our ability to communicate and promote our yearly pilgrimage. Check them out.

"Currently, I'm the unofficial historian of the association and serve as vice president and secretary. Mike SMITH (Smitty) is president. However, these are frivolous titles and when all is said and done; I'm just an old MEDEVACer, and damned proud of it. Clear Right!"

Larry added that Jim VICTOR does not have e-mail, to his knowledge, but can be contacted through Larry and that Jim's nickname was "Festus." Larry also recalls that Bob VALENCIA's last known whereabouts was Fairbanks, AK. Bob came up from 15th Admin and was his roommate at Phuoc Vinh, so Larry remembers, and reiterates that the new gunner in training, Danny WEAVER, was training with VALENCIA and bounced with the bird, shot down on his very first mission. Bob only had about a week and a half left to DEROS. Those would be Larry's corrections to Joel MORRIS' best recollections.

Ronald INGRAM INGRAMRMTNG@AOL.COM from La Vista, NB, wrote in and mentions that he served with 15TH MED as a Medic on MEDEVAC '66-'67. Good to hear from you Ronald!

Reginald (Bud) DAVIS MEDEVAC791@AOL.COM one of our famous original MEDEVAC door gunners from Jan '66 when MEDEVAC first added M-60 machine guns wrote in with his new address: 8602 146TH St. Ct. E. Puyallup, WA 98375 and Phone # (253) 840- 5492. Thanks Bud for making these change known to us all.

Gordon RUSSELL, GRDNRUSSELL@AOL.COM , MEDEVAC PSG from '69 e-mailed just after the last column went to print to say that he and others would be attending the WWII ceremonies for the new memorial which was Nov 11th, Veterans Day, at 1 P.M. at the Rainbow Pool on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. That memorial is long overdue.

Jack (Kid) FOSTER RFOSTER240@JUNO.COM from Machesney Pk, IL, comments: "I'm looking for a pilot name Ray ZEPP who used to fly with A Co. 229th before going to this unit [MEDEVAC, A.A.P., HSC 15th MED], because he flew me from the 45th Field Hospital to 12th Evacuation Hospital in Cu Chi in Sep of '69. I was a crew chief with A Co. 229th, crewed helicopter 501, and my nickname was 'Kid'. The info you have on your site is the wrong number; if anyone knows where i can find him please e-mail me or call at (815)636-8501). Thank You."

Paul LA GRONE PPCL2000@AOL.COM from Modesto, CA wrote to say, "Hi All, Served with the 15th MED from Mar '68 to Nov '69. Great to see some of the names on here...and Hello To Ray ZEPP."

Another correction to the last Saber column was my mention of the motto of the U.S. Air Force's Para-rescue Jumpers which is: "THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE." They drop the "SO" that 1st Cav MEDEVAC uses. For those who like to read books about military rescue there is one with the same name as their motto, by Senior Master Sergeant Jack BREHM and Pete NELSON, about that same unit. Speaking of the U.S.A.F. Para-rescue Jumpers, there was one member of that unit in Vietnam, A1C William H. PITSENBARGER, who just last month had his posthumous Air Force Cross upgraded to the CMOH for his heroism on April 11, 1966, while performing aeromedical evacuation for the 1st Infantry Division. He was K.I.A. when he volunteered to join the Big Red One troops on the ground to better assist their evacuations. His personal sacrifice for which he was credited with saving numerous lives was well in the tradition of, SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE!

Duffie COLE, Jr. ODUFFIE@BELLSOUTH.NET who was a member of HHC 15th MED in '66\'67 in RVN and also again in RVN '69\'71 wrote to know if there is a photo of Hon Cong Mountain (the hill next to Camp Radcliff at An Khe) available. Duffie expresses that in '66 it was a jungle, and when he returned in '69 it was completely bald, for good reasons.

So along with burning and artillery, to rid the hill of foliage, a defoliant would have had to be used, he would think. The skirmishes on Hon Cong mountain took his friend's life and he believes in theory the mountain is still taking our brothers lives today due to Agent Orange. He thinks a comparison of these photos in '66 against the photos around '69 should be interesting to say the least.

I referred Duffie to a couple of those photos which I found on the 1st Cav Assn. Web site photos page but if anyone else has any more photos along the lines of what he may be looking for then he should be happy to hear from you. I also referred Duffie to B.G. BURKETT'S book: STOLEN VALOR, and his discussion of the "myth" of Agent Orange which I mentioned in the last Saber. Perhaps BURKETT is wrong on this but he offers convincing evidence.

Butch MULLEN BMULLEN@INFOCOM.COM from Richmond, IN wrote to say, "I was with the 5th Bn 7th Cav in '68, with both HHC and A Company. I want to thank you all for sticking your neck out to save me and a lot of others." Notes like that to MEDEVAC and 15th MED personnel are always appreciated, but I am sure that we did what we did for all calls for help regardless. GARRYOWEN Butch!

Claude NEWBY, wrote in to remind us that he was chaplain of the 15th Medical Battalion (1966) and recently his two books were released, the first titled: "It Took Heroes: A Chaplain's Tribute to Combat Veterans and Those Who Waited for Them. The second: It Took Heroes: Volume II: Continuing the Story and Tribute to Those Who Endured the Darkest Days of Vietnam. He quotes Kregg P. J. JORGENSON, former LRRP, who Claude says he helped rescue during his baptism of fire. Claude informs that Volume I included three months with the 15th MED (MEDEVAC). Both volumes contain incidents involving Medics and MEDEVAC. He adds that author, Ranger, and Apache Blues trooper Kregg P. J. JORGENSON writes, "Claude NEWBY writes compelling history and: It Took Heroes, Volume II, is by far THE best book I have read on the Vietnam War. It is well documented and researched, fast-paced and moving. It is one that I will have on my bookshelf, and treasure for its scope, its honesty, and style."

To get autographed, numbered copies of Volume I, send $16.00 per book (which includes $2.05 shipping and packaging) to: 641 West 3300 South, Bountiful, UT 84010. For Volume II, send $18.25 (which includes $2.30 shipping and packaging); Claude NEWBY CDNEWBY@DESERETONLINE.COM .

Doc L. Don BARTON MUDMEDIC@USWEST.NET SFC retired, MEDEVAC PSG '69-'70 who was Gordon RUSSELL's successor, wrote in to say that he reads and enjoys this Saber column. Doc BARTON was my PSG while he and I were in MEDEVAC and I know that he would not say that he enjoys reading this column unless he really does. To my memory he was always there making sure that we were well trained for MEDEVAC. He even flew as door gunner once while I was flying as the Medic on a pitch black night mission and he helped me to keep one Skytrooper alive when it took two to make it easier to do that. Doc BARTON was also in the 5th Cav in '69 and now lives in Tucson, AZ. Great to hear from you Doc!

Always remembering our 1st Cav troops on duty around the world; over and out.

Mike Bodnar C 2\7 '69
MEDEVAC 1-7\70

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